Halloween and Christmas related spam detected as Chinese pharmacy maintains detection rates

Holiday and event related spam has been detected with Christmas and Halloween themes.

Symantec's monthly spam report claimed that overall spam volumes averaged at 87 per cent of all email messages in August 2009, while health spam decreased and averaged at 6.73 per cent.

However holiday spam campaigns have been detected and begun leveraging Halloween and Christmas, following closely after Labour Day-related spam. The report claimed that economist predictions show that there will be more pressure than ever for retailers to get an early start on what is expected to be a very difficult holiday season, overshadowed by the economic downturn and pressures on consumer spending.

It claimed that it was ‘not surprising that spammers have followed suit with campaigns for Halloween and Christmas', as spam subject titles contain key words such as ‘Hello Halloween + Summer Sale, $3.99 and under', ‘Sign Up for Our Halloween Workshop for Party Plans, Pumpkins, Decorations, and More' and ‘Biggest deal this Halloween'.

Christmas was also detected in spam, with subject lines including ‘It's new improved crazy Christmas' and ‘It's new improved crazy Christmas'.

Meanwhile McAfee's September 2009 spam report claimed that plenty of news regarding ‘Chinese pharmacy' spam had been detected and constitute between 60 and 65 per cent of today's global email volume, a figure that has been maintained for three to four months.

The report said: “Although this phenomenon is primarily based in China, the websites appear to be in Canada. Why the Land of the Loon? Everyone trusts Canadians, and it is common knowledge in the United States, at least, that Canadian drugs are less expensive.”

However it concluded that it is inaccurate to view the Chinese pharmacy spam phenomenon as the result of purposeful malicious behaviour by the Chinese government or a single corporation. Instead it appears to be the result of a need to export the results of excessive overproduction to a global population that has tightened its purse strings against unnecessary spending.

The report said: “Based on these observations of pharmacy spam there is no end in sight. If excess industrial chemical production in China cannot be dumped on the legal market, then it will continue to find a black market.

“The need for that black market is too strong to be shut down by international law enforcement. On the other hand, there may be a peak to pharmaceutical spam in which the quest for profitability and maintainability eventually balances with the growth rate of the drugs market and reduces the danger of long-term overproduction. This may also result in an overabundance of idle botnet nodes and, as we all know, an idle botnet is the devil's plaything.”

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